October 6, 2010
Today's Max Performance Summer tires are designed to deliver an unrivaled blend of dry and wet traction using the manufacturer's latest design and manufacturing technology to achieve it. While high traction levels are paramount, some refinement in road manners is also critical. Low profile sizes, high speed ratings, and even Original Equipment fitment on some of the world's best performance and sports cars are all hallmarks of the category.
Kumho has jumped into the deep end with their new Ecsta LE Sport, designed to take on the top tires in the Max Performance Summer category. To find out how it performs, the Tire Rack team conducted a Real World Road Ride and Performance Track Drive, comparing it with three popular tires in the category - the Continental ExtremeContact DW, Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric and Michelin Pilot Sport PS2. Our evaluation used 2011 BMW E92 328i coupes fitted with new, full tread depth 225/45R17 tires mounted on 17x8.0" wheels.
Our 6.6-mile loop of expressway, state highway and county roads provides a great variety of road conditions that include city and highway speeds, smooth and coarse concrete, as well as new and patched asphalt. This route allows our team to experience noise comfort, ride quality and everyday handling, just as you would during your drive to school or work.
Our team really liked the crisp handling of the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2, which felt noticeably more responsive than the others. The Continental ExtremeContact DW and Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric both responded a little more slowly than the Michelin, while still delivering stable handling. Once past a narrow on-center dead spot felt when driving straight ahead, the Kumho Ecsta LE Sport showed good steering feel and feedback.
The ExtremeContact DW provided the most comfortable ride of the group, doing a pretty good job minimizing the harshness of bigger bumps. The Eagle F1 Asymmetric also managed to soften many of the road's imperfections. The Ecsta LE Sport followed, showing a hint of harshness when it encountered larger impacts. The Pilot Sport PS2 felt the firmest of the group, but thankfully felt well controlled with one taut motion when it encountered the big bumps.
For a tire in the Max Performance Summer category, the Ecsta LE Sport proved to be surprisingly quiet as it rolled over the variety of surfaces along our route. The ExtremeContact DW trailed by a small margin, producing minimal tread noise but a small boom when it encountered bigger impacts. The Eagle F1 Asymmetric generated more tread pattern noise than the DW, but produced noticeably less boom on impact. The Pilot Sport PS2 produced somewhat less tread noise than the Eagle F1 Asymmetric, but did generate some additional booming when it encountered impacts.
Our 1/3-mile per lap test track course includes 90-degree street corners, lane changes and simulated expressway ramps. Run in both dry and wet conditions, the test track allows our team to experience the traction, responsiveness, handling and drivability normally only encountered during abrupt emergency avoidance maneuvers or competition events.
Our group of test tires felt quite at home on our test track, all displaying the high level of traction, responsiveness and stability we expect from Max Performance Summer tires. In one of our closest finishes ever, the lap time of the fastest three tires was separated by only 0.13 seconds. Quickest, but not the subjective favorite, was the Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric which had plenty of ultimate grip, but lacked the steering precision and feedback of several other tires. Virtually tied for first was the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 (a scant 0.02 second behind), feeling responsive and precise. Third quickest was the Continental ExtremeContact DW with lots of cornering grip, excellent braking traction and a big confidence-inspiring plateau of grip as it reached the limit during hard cornering. Still fast, but trailing the other three, was the Kumho Ecsta LE Sport which behaved predictably, but didn't have quite as much overall cornering traction as the others.
In the wet, two tires stood out with only 0.03 seconds separating their total lap time. Subjectively, the ExtremeContact DW proved the easiest to control at the limit with plenty of traction, especially under braking. The Eagle F1 Asymmetric also displayed an amazing level of ultimate grip, but wasn't quite as easy to control at the limit. The Pilot Sport PS2 followed with quick steering response, but not as much ultimate traction to match the leaders. Struggling somewhat to keep up was the Ecsta LE Sport. It felt easy to control at its limit, albeit at a somewhat lower level than the other three tires.
Our Real World Road Ride features a relatively flat 6.6-mile loop of 65 mph expressway, 55 mph state highway and 40 mph county roads along with two stop signs and one traffic light every lap. Our team drove approximately 500 miles over the course of several days. Since we wanted to compare fuel consumption results that typical drivers would experience, our drivers were instructed to maintain the flow of traffic by running at the posted speed limits and to sustain the vehicle's speed using cruise control whenever possible. They did not use hypermiling techniques to influence vehicle fuel economy.
@ 15,000 Miles
|% vs. Most Efficient|
|Continental ExtremeContact DW||26.7||561.8||-0.75%|
|Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric||26.4||568.2||-1.89%|
|Kumho Ecsta LE Sport||26.4||568.2||-1.89%|
|Michelin Pilot Sport PS2||26.9||557.6||--|
|*Our evaluation used Linear Logic ScanGauge II automotive computers to record fuel consumption, and Race Technology DL1 data loggers to record true distance travelled.|
None of the tires in this test were designed with low rolling resistance as a high priority, and with that we found only a small difference in observed vehicle fuel economy. Based on our results the 0.5 mile per gallon difference between our lowest and highest observed fuel economy would result in an annual difference of about 11 gallons of premium gasoline. At the current cost of $2.75/gallon it would amount to about $29 for drivers traveling 15,000 miles a year.
It's important to note our test's fuel consumption measurements follow consistent procedures designed to minimize variables that could influence the results, however they do not represent an exhaustive long-range fuel consumption study. While our procedures require the test vehicles in each convoy to run under the same prevailing conditions, the week-to-week differences in ambient temperatures, barometric pressures and wind speeds that we experience over a season of testing can influence vehicle fuel consumption and prevent the absolute mpg values of this test from being compared directly against those of others.
Larger differences in consumption between tires may indicate a difference that might be experienced on the road, while smaller differences should be considered equivalent. As they say, your mileage may vary.
Continental ExtremeContact DW (Max Performance Summer): The ExtremeContact DW (DW for Dry & Wet) is Continental Tire's Max Performance Summer tire developed for the drivers of sports cars, sports coupes and performance sedans. The ExtremeContact DW is designed to deliver good ride quality and serious performance on both dry and wet roads. Like all summer tires, the ExtremeContact DW is not intended to be driven in near-freezing temperatures, through snow or on ice. Read more.
Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric (Max Performance Summer): The Eagle F1 Asymmetric is Goodyear's Max Performance Summer tire developed for modern high performance vehicles that are more advanced, intelligent and luxurious than ever before. However since these vehicles are also more powerful, faster and heavier, they require tires that can provide control without conceding comfort. The asymmetric in the Eagle F1 Asymmetric name describes both the tire's tread design and internal structure, both of which are designed to enhance performance in dry and wet conditions. Like all summer tires, the Eagle F1 Asymmetric is not intended to be driven in near-freezing temperatures, through snow or on ice. Read more.
Kumho Ecsta LE Sport (Max Performance Summer): The Ecsta LE Sport is Kumho's Max Performance Summer tire developed for the drivers of sports cars, sporty coupes and performance sedans who want dynamic handling performance on dry and wet roads. The Ecsta LE Sport offers a sophisticated European-inspired design that delivers a blend of ride comfort and cockpit quietness. Like all summer tires, it is not intended to be driven in near-freezing temperatures, through snow or on ice. Read more.
Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 (Max Performance Summer): The Pilot Sport PS2 is a Max Performance Summer tire member of the Michelin Pilot family of low profile, high-speed tires. Initially developed for Original Equipment (O.E.) on some of the world's most prestigious sports cars and performance sedans, the Pilot Sport PS2 combines world-class dry road traction, handling and cornering. Some of the first Pilot Sport PS2 O.E. fitments included the BMW Alpina Z8, McLaren SLR and Porsche GT2/GT3 models. The Pilot Sport PS2 is not intended to be driven in near-freezing temperatures, through snow or on ice. Read more.
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